My series of posts on the inspiration behind State ends with the eponymous story. There may be spoilers ahead.
The immediate plot was drawn from a vague memory I had of an attempt by someone in the West to smuggle a relative past a checkpoint in a coffin. If I remember correctly (I didn’t research it before writing the story), they suffocated because they sealed the coffin tight to avoid suspicion but couldn’t get through quickly enough.
Growing up during the Cold War, the prose and programs of my youth (both fact and fiction) were liberally spiced with heroic Western spies and brave partisans escaping from the monolithic evil of Communism.
At the time my tastes were for clear narratives of good triumphing. However, as both my love of nuanced prose and my acceptance of human complexity have grown, the spy stories I return to are more Le Carré than MacLean.
So, it felt more satisfying if the risk of suffocation was not from external bureaucracy but the protagonist’s ambivalence about carrying out the plan.
The second inspiration was the extremes of the current anti-immigration advocates in the United Kingdom. Imagining a world where the isolationists did gain more and more popular support, and climate change was left unchecked, the pressure of flooding provoked not just closed borders but the exiling of citizens.
The legal system of the Polity grew from the theory of outlawry: that the protection of society is contingent on accepting the burdens. Reimagined through the filter of extreme politics and population control, this became not just a punishment of last resort for extreme anti-social crimes but a tool to remove anyone who didn’t utterly conform.
The remainder of the legal system, the condition of the United States, and the strained relations between nations grew from a novel I am currently brainstorming about a twisted solution to Americans who cannot afford healthcare.
Did you enjoy State? Would you like to see more of the Enclave or the New America?